According to a Slate piece that’s making the rounds this week, you probably don’t know what drowning looks like. Why? Well, because when it actually happens, it doesn’t resemble what just about anyone would think of as drowning. “There is very little splashing, no waving, and no yelling or calls for help of any kind,” writes Mario Vittone.
The insight is seasonally appropriate for all Americans, sure. But there’s also this: The fatal-drowning rate of black children ages 5 to 14 is almost three times that of white children in the same age range. Probably worth a read:
1. “Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled before speech occurs.
2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.” …
Look for these other signs of drowning when persons are in the water:
* Head low in the water, mouth at water level
* Head tilted back with mouth open
* Eyes glassy and empty, unable to focus
* Eyes closed
* Hair over forehead or eyes
* Not using legs — vertical
* Hyperventilating or gasping
* Trying to swim in a particular direction but not making headway
* Trying to roll over on the back
* Appear to be climbing an invisible ladder